excessive consumption may produce laxative effects
The Maul is a relaunch and rebranding of ebaE, an e-tail digital zine that I started with friends in June 2014. It was a sort of antagonistic jab at how flat, shit and sterile fashion e-commerce was (and still is.) We were also pretty obsessed with other digital dialogues; for instance meme cultures and newsfeed formats, all of which were reinterpreted through a fashion communication context.
We got a lot of press and managed to sell quite a few things too which was sweet, even having our own solo exhibition last February, but I got a bit bored of the format and thought I'd use my final year project as a chance to relaunch the work under a new guise.
EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION MAY PRODUCE LAXATIVE EFFECTS
The Maul offers more of a narrative to the structure we worked with before. Think; zombie-killers-meet-net-a-porter; Liam Payne shooting up a cinema in Colorado. The moment when pop culture finally implodes in on itself. To fully convey this, I've handmade a collection of clothes, accessories and homewares that would suggest the not-too-distant apocalyptic vibe I wanted. It's as if the world has ended, and the only thing that survived is Avengers merchandise and memes. Just like before, it's all for sale, continuing my evolving practice of e-commerce as performance. (The collection walks an unclear line between art and fashion; it's more accessible than wearable art, but has more depth than arty fashion.)
In it's purest form, the Maul is a body of work about excess, scale, throwaway consumer habits, virtuality and simulation.
This rebrand has also seen me utilise video game engines to create grand, interactive editorial sets, where the main protagonist, dressed head to toe in Maul clothing, explores a tangible incarnation of the Maul; an abandoned shopping mall on a desert island. Immersive virtual experiences such as these push fashion communication beyond linear narratives, and by all accounts, this is a new way to experience fashion and fashion retail; a feat that is becoming ever more difficult to say in today's oversaturated fashion landscape.
As well as the above, there is an staggering number of references running through the Maul that culminate in what I see as my own parallel universe, uncannily similar to our own. From surrealist painting, to blockbuster cinema, comic book heroes, to clowns and harlequins, open world video gaming, to celebrity meltdowns; I've crafted a virtual unreality of modern consumer habits, popped culture and grotesque excess like never before. The Maul is a natural progression of ebaE, but also another chapter of the evolutionary process that my work falls into.
Save the sharks.
Let's go to the Maul...
Through the making of this, I discovered many parallels between garment construction and video game production. When you are texturing a 3D object, you must unwrap the skin and layout the texture as if cutting a pattern out of cloth. Surface values are more essential in video games than actual texture, so fabric choices became more considered for their colour and design as opposed to their flow and how they drape.
This importance on surface was an essential step into my critique of platforms such as net-a-porter. I'm always in awe at how Net-a-Porter so artfully reduces the most luxurious ready to wear items each season to stale lifeless shells waiting to envelop their souless owner’s flesh prison. In this magazine, I reduce a hand knit sweater that took over 120 hours to construct into a pixellated skin on the main playable character in the game. Pretty much all the content and imagery i have spent the last few years producing would be cold and irrelevant in the pages of a magazine. Strangely enough, the flat sterility of digital publishing brings them to life. As tangible objects lovingly hand made, they thrive online.
The Rana Plaza incident was an initial inspiration behind ebaE, a tragic event in fashion of incomprehensible proportions that, still after three years, hasn't resulted in any meaningful change to a toxic system.
The tragedy remains a testament to contemporary western consciousness that if something is out of sight it is out of mind. The neglect that caused the deaths of 1,130 people still continues in factories around the third world and western consumption didn’t miss a beat. Fast fashion is reaching a breaking point. The fabric of our society will be rembembered as throwaway, and what does that say for our legacy?